Tuesday, August 30, 2011

beating the weather and smiling

A lot of mornings, one of the first things I do (even before coming out from under the covers) is log onto my cell phone internet to see what the weather is doing outside.  Truth:  I am doing that to give myself an excuse not to get up and out, if there is "weather" out there.  

But this morning I didn't bother with that.  I was more well-rested than I have been since way before my recent move, and felt ready to get out there.  So I was already up the hill and jogging before I saw that there were no stars at all - must be pretty overcast.

The sun rises outside my giant window while I eat my breakfast and read my devotionals; the sky looks pretty overcast to me.  I am so glad I didn't check the weather and decide not to go out.  Apparently I really like this jogging thing.  

Will wonders never cease.

Monday, August 29, 2011

the mystery of my knee

Yesterday when I walked to church, my right knee hurt for the first half of the walk - not so much that it made me limp, but enough that I winced at every impact.  I had fallen while jogging on my second run last week, but had landed on my LEFT knee, and though it was scraped up and a bit bruised, that one was all very superficial and had no impact on my joints, etc.  The pain in my right knee caught my attention yesterday, but I just shrugged it off.  I had forgotten to stretch before I left - maybe that was it.  And then there is the simple fact that I've been overweight for more than 20 years, which means movement sometimes brings pain.  My knee eventually stopped hurting and I put it behind me as just a function of my age/weight/fitness level/etc.

My morning run starts out down the hall, out the side door, across the driveway, and then there is a very steep hill in the yard that  have to climb to get to the not-quite-as-steep, but still very steep hill that is the street.  I walk until I get to the top (that's my "brisk walking warmup") and then, already out of breath, I jog.  

But this morning when I got to the very steep grassy hill, my right knee talked again.  LOUD.  I just flat couldn't walk up on it.  I stopped for a minute and considered going back inside and skipping the run...after all, I don't want to permanently damage the only knees I have.  But in the end, I tried turning around and backing up the hill (just the yard part), and that removed the pain.  The street, as I said, isn't as steep, and I was able to do that part going forward without pain, and then my run, too, was without pain.  

So I don't quite know what to make of my right knee right now, but for today I am grateful to have found a way around it.  Really don't want to get sidelined at this point. 


Sunday, August 28, 2011

rest, a walk, and back to the routine

Been resting heartily this weekend.  Lots of time on the couch, lots of naps, many, many glasses of water to drink.  Walked to church and back today (1.3 miles each way) at a lovely, slow, very un-Chicago pace - hardly broke a sweat (that was the objective: don't be sweaty for church.)  The sunshine and exercise did a nice job of lifting me out of what was starting to feel like a bit of a dark cloud (though I find Rock Island drivers MUCH less aware of pedestrians/much less safe to me as a walker than Chicago drivers).

Supper tonight was the best meal I've had yet since moving back:  half a blackened salmon salad, and a whole fresh tomato with salt and pepper.  Ohhhhhh YEAH! 

Tomorrow morning, back to the weekday schedule, including my morning run.  The rest has been nice, but I am looking forward to work, too.  

Which makes me blessed. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

distance and diet

I've been dying to know how far I run in my 30 minutes in the mornings. In Chicago, I always meant to come home and google map it, but I never did. Last night I was out in my parents' borrowed truck, and in a flash of inspiration, I measured my run route with the odometer. I currently jog 1.8 miles in 30 minutes. Now you know why walkers passed me out on the lake front path!

Nonetheless, I continue to be pleased with being able to jog 30 minutes without stopping and without wanting to throw up or collapse at the end. I'm working up a nice sweat and definitely increasing my heart rate as I run, and that's good enough for now. Soon enough I'll start working on speed. For this week, though, and probably for next week as well, I'll call it "enough" just to do it like I'm doing it.

A friend asked how food is working for me here. That one is fun. Until I get my first paycheck and can do some grocery shopping, I am getting both lunch and supper from the Bistro that is within the senior housing facility where I work (I have a nice stash of breakfast goodies at my place and am not inclined to go "out" for breakfast when I can enjoy it in my pjs at home.) So I've had fun and healthy meals like:

small salad
grilled swordfish
brown rice with vegetables
green beans

tomato rice soup
baked cod
sweet potato
succotash (that's lima beans and corn, if, like me, you didn't know)

blackened steak salad (huge)

greek salad (huge)

southwestern wrap - chicken, black beans and veggies in a tortilla
fresh fruit - cantaloupe, honeydew, grapes, pineapple

And so on. Yesterday was my only major "oopsie"...a coworker was celebrating her 50th birthday and gave me a giant piece of very frosted birthday cake, right there at my desk. Down the hatch it went, and it didn't even cross my mind that I shouldn't have gone there, or at least shouldn't have eaten a piece big enough for 3 people, until much later. Oopsie. And there's the part where I'm glad I am not "on a diet"...I am just letting God teach me to love my body. So I don't have to suffer a wave of self-recrimination or get depressed or worry that I'll never get it right. I can just make the next right choice, and leave the oopsie behind me.

Meanwhile I am still working on the tiredness factor. I might really just be wiped out from all the change and the more challenging schedule. It might be just that simple.

The good news: the weekend is almost here, and I can do some aggressive resting to counter that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

no run = sleepy?

Okay, so my tiny little book of all things running says that I should skip days between my runs, to let my body recuperate. I have ignored that advice up until this week, because what I have been doing is so low-level that I can't imagine my body actually NEEDS a break. This week, since I have finally moved to jogging 30 uninterrupted minutes, I thought maybe it was time to start alternating days instead of just cramming the run into any 3 or 4 days that work for me.

So yesterday was my "off" day for the run. Know what? I got sleepy by lunch and felt ready for bed by the time I got off work at 5 PM - if I hadn't made myself go outside for a walk, I'd have been asleep by 7 PM.

Now, I know part of my being sleepy/tired is due to the simple fact that for the past 9 months, my work day has been 6 hours plus a 1 hour lunch break, and now it is 8 hours plus a one hour lunch break. Adding 2 hours to the "productive" part of my day is bound to take some adjusting, though 8 hours of work is not exactly a day in the salt mines, you know? Also, in Chicago I had bursts of intensity at work but also periods of lulls - here in Rock Island, my work days tend to be an almost uninterrupted mental challenge. This is not a complaint; I actually enjoy that about it. But I suppose the lack of lulls probably contributes to tiredness by the end of the day, eh?

There is also the factor of the massive change of almost every aspect of my life. That seems likely to be a bit fatiguing at first. But what I am guessing the biggest factor in that tiredness was boils down to: I didn't start my motor running first thing in the morning. I think I'll listen to what my body says to me today, after starting with a good run...and if it says what I think it's going to say, it looks like I'll be up and out for another one tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, I don't have a reliable internet connection yet at my new place, so my blogs here and especially at my other blog will be less-that-regular until I am able to remedy that situation, which is probably almost a month away. If you don't "see" me here, don't give up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

new, new, new

I officially made the move back from Chicago to Rock Island this weekend; I am all unpacked into my super-nifty apartment and moving into a new phase (and *new* is definitely the theme I keep hearing from God at this point.)  

Now begins the challenge of not losing the things I have learned and the lifestyle changes I made in Chicago.  No steam table meals that lend themselves so easily to my little ways I've tricked myself into downsizing my diet...shopping and cooking for myself, I'm going to have to be more careful not to overdo.  No sixth story room...gonna have to find a way to compensate for all the stairs I no longer have to climb (though, as a friend noted, I now live in the land of tremendous hills, so it's not rocket science, how to work that out.)  

This morning, I made it for my morning run (gotta move it back from 5:30 to 5, with my new, earlier work time), which was in the dark.  Since I live on the side of one of those tremendous hills, my 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up was mostly uphill.  I am happy to say that hill does not kick my butt nearly as hard as it once did.  

This was my first morning of jogging 30 minutes with no walk breaks!  WAHOO!!!  I did it!  Me - Karen Swank!!!  And it wasn't even all that hard!  

If you're following this and teetering on whether or not to try the C25K thing...DOOOOOO IT!  And tell me all about the adventure!

Meanwhile..have a great Monday.  I know I will!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

stretched a bit

Haven't blogged much lately, mostly because I'm all hardcore about soaking up every last bit of wonderful to be found in this, my final week of living in Chicago.  And then, too, there are the emotions surrounding all of that...extreme joy, extreme sadness, overflowing with memories and anticipation.  Which has led to rather more emotional eating than I care to confess to.  

Still, I have not given up.  

I completed my third run for this week this morning (probably my final Chicago jog).  Ran 14 minutes, walked 1, ran 14, walked 1, and up the steps to the 6th floor.   Next week I begin running 30 uninterrupted minutes a day in Rock Island, and each time will include time on one of those epic Rock Island hills.

Truth:  it was HARD getting out there this morning.  I'm having a ton of late nights (visiting friends, drinking caffeinated beverages too late in the day, lying awake thinking too much, sleeping very lightly with dreams that feel like work) and the cumulative effect was very much felt this morning.  The whole run was one big UGH.  

Still, I made it out there and didn't stop to sit down for a break, which was all my mind wanted to say to me (never had THAT thought before this morning)!  

So, overall, though I'm tired and this loving my body thing feels hard and not very natural just now...I'm still moving forward by the grace of God.

This is good.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

ungracefully learning

Went out to eat with friends for the past two evenings.  Quickly learned that I still have plenty of work to do re: learning to hear and love my body even in that tempting setting.  I have all my little ways set in place here at my house; they work for that setting, but I'm gonna need to press into God for guidance on slaying the "must feast while in a restaurant" mindset.

Yesterday morning I didn't run, partly because I had sat up talking way too late the night before, but mostly because I stopped to check the weather on my phone before rolling out of bed and it said "isolated thunderstorms."  That was enough to keep sleepy Karen in bed.  As I have stated before, I really do better in making good choices if I do it quickly and without hesitation or backups.

Oh well...I'm learning, right?

Monday, August 8, 2011


Advanced to the next step in my running:

Run (jog) 13 minutes
Walk 2 minutes

HEY!!  I can jog 13 minutes, uninterrupted, and then do it again in 2 minutes!  Me!  Karen Swank!  I can do it!  Holy cow.

Next week I will do jog 14 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat.  My tiny book advises that if this tires me, I should repeat it a week before moving to the big daddy of 'em all:  jog 30 minutes without stopping!

Either way, looks like before the month is over I will be at the 30-minute-jog mark.

Me!  Karen Swank! 


Friday, August 5, 2011

free, easy, beautiful

Last night, at my son's prompting, I saw the movie "Tree of Life."  Beautiful piece of cinematic art that left me considering God, love, and release.  I recommend it.

I could have taken the bus there, but the day was way beyond beautiful and I had the time to spare, so I walked the 2.4 miles there at a very leisurely Karen-ish pace (leisurely: 2.4 miles in an hour...no hurry, honey).  Discovered (and fell in love with) parts of Chicago I hadn't yet seen.  And relished the fact that getting out and moving is now a joy and a treat to me, not a chore or hardship.  (And afterward, since I was a woman out alone in the big city in the middle of the night, I rode the bus home, cuz being responsible about safety is also part of loving this body, eh?) 

Feasted on a spectacular salad before I went.  Sweet potatoes on the side were definitely good enough to seem like a dessert. 

I am learning:  taking care of this body - loving it in a manner appropriate to the fact that God loves it first and better than I do - it's a lot more fun than I ever would have imagined. 

And letting Him do the work in me?  About a thousand times easier than mustering the will to "be a better person."  Go God. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

delicious moments

How's the weather where you are?  It's warm here, and more importantly, muggy.  I have gotten so used to the beastly, horrible heat we recently had that 90+ just registers with me as "warm"...the body can be amazingly adaptable, eh?  So yesterday I walked home from work in the "warm" weather and when I arrived I discovered my hair was soaked almost entirely through with sweat.  I guess that's more like hot than warm, eh?

At supper the dining room was full.  I took my plate outside to enjoy the fresh air in the side yard.  There, I discovered that the sprinkler area was flooded.  Better yet...there were somehow, most amazingly, NO CHILDREN outside at all!  I quickly left my supper on a bench table, kicked off my flip flops and headed for the water.  Coooold at first touch, just up over the tops of my toes but not ankle-deep...delicious.  I waded, I watched the water ripple, I kicked and splashed.  It was only a minute or two, but I was cooled, refreshed and delighted like a child when I was done.  

Sometimes learning to love my body is just soaking up the moment.  I'm liking learning this stuff. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

jogging and where's the beef

This morning I woke up half an hour before the alarm, actually excited about my run.  I am just blown away that I could be excited about exercise...most especially running

This week's routine is (after 5 minutes of brisk walking to warm up) 3 rounds that look like:

9 minutes of running (jogging)
1 minute of walking

And then of course when I got back to the house there were those 6 flights of stairs to climb.  

I can jog for 9 minutes without stopping.  For realz!   Crazy, crazy, crazy.  

In other news, at last night's weekly cook-your-own charcoal grill night, by the time I got outside the beef patties were gone.  So I tried turkey patties.  I was reluctant, to put it mildly.  I LIKES MY HAMBURGERS, people.  But you know, they were good.  And I know they are quite a bit lower fat (read:  better for this body) than my beloved beef pattties.  

Here's to learning good things, even if I have to be forced to do so.